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Former Ohio Congressman Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison

BY Admin  July 30, 2002 at 6:05 PM EST

The same court convicted the former representative April 11 of running his congressional office as a racketeering enterprise. The ten counts included bribery, racketeering and tax evasion.

Traficant, 61, was also found guilty of making members of his staff kick back part of their paychecks and forcing aides to work on his family farm and a boat.

The jury also convicted the former sheriff of accepting favors and cash bribes from businessmen who sought his help in Washington.

During today’s hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Lesley Wells denied the ex-congressman’s request for bail.

In denying bail, the judge quoted Traficant’s earlier statements that he planned to break out of jail and “tear the throats out of law enforcement officers.”

Wells told an argumentative Traficant that he is guilty of “flagrant abuses of an office of public trust.”

He interrupted Judge Wells on one occasion, accusing her of bias and saying he objected to her “harsh remarks, your demeaning remarks.”

Traficant had attempted to convince Wells that his expulsion from the House was adequate punishment for his actions, but she disagreed, saying she believed that was a separate political matter.

The eight-year sentence is longer than that of seven and a quarter the prosecution had requested, although Traficant could have been sentenced to more than 60 years. Judge Wells told the former lawmaker his sentence was harsher because he had no respect for government and was guilty of lying to distract attention from the charges leveled against him.

“You’ve done a lot of good in your years in Congress,” she told him. “The good you have done does not excuse you of the crime you were convicted of.”

Wells also ordered Traficant to pay $1,840 per month for his own imprisonment — not to exceed $150,000 — and to pay $19,580 in federal income taxes. He is also required to forfeit $96,000 of income the jury had determined to be ill-gotten gains.

The former Democrat was first elected to Congress in 1984 after successfully defending himself against federal charges that he accepted cash bribes from organized crime while he was sheriff.

Traficant’s sentencing came a week after the House expelled him by a vote of 420-1. He is the second member of Congress to be removed from office since the Civil War. The former congressman has remained defiant and pledged to run for a tenth term from prison.